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86                  HISTORY OF PERSIA
been a passive spectator of conquests which had robbed
him of many of his provinces, and who offered no des-
perate resistance. Having mastered Khorasan, Yakub
proceeded to attack neighbouring Tabaristan. At Sari
he defeated Hasan bin Zayd, its independent prince of
the House of Ali, but, pursuing him towards Gilan, he
lost most of his men in the pestilential swamps, and per-
force returned to Sistan to recruit.
Yakub was now master of half Persia, in addition to
many eastern provinces, and, elated by a succession of
victorious campaigns, in A.H, 162 (875) he decided to
try conclusions with the Caliph himself He began with
a formal demand for the province of Kars ; Motumidjiot
only refused this, but " dismissed" the conqueror from
the governorship of Khorasan, Yakub immediately
advanced on Baghdad, and near the capital met Muafluk,
who defeated him with heavy loss, which included his
entire camp* Yakub, however, was not discouraged,
but, returning to Pars, prepared to raise a new army.
His self-confidence was so great that he refused with
scorn an offer of assistance from the Zanj leader, which
he answered in the words of the Koran, " I worship not
that which ye worship ; neither do ye worship that which
I worship."
Three years later, in A.H. 265 (878), the Caliph sent
an embassy of friendly remonstrance to Yakub, When
it arrived the great adventurer lay dying, with his sword
by his side and a crust and onions -ready to be served for
his coarse meal. In this state he received the envoy, and
gave the reply which forms the heading to this chapter ;
shortly afterwards he died.
The Origin of the Imaili Sect,—As stated in Chapter
XLVIL, the doctrine of the Imamate, by which one of
the descendants of All must be invested with supreme
spiritual leadership and was endowed with supernatural
and semi-divine attributes, was a fundamental article of
belief among the Shias.    The first six Imams> as far as
Jafar as-Sadik, who died in A.D. 765 during the reign of
jMansur, were universally accepted, but Jafar, who had
Jin the first instance designated his son Ismail to succeed